Author: Cassie Scott
The ATA’s Dan Forster and Josh Gold attended the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies annual meetings and conference in September to promote archery sports and the interests of ATA members. A month later they continued those efforts by explaining and promoting ATA initiatives at a regional meeting of state agencies.
This year’s AFWA conference was held Sept. 9 to 12 in Tampa, Florida. Forster, the ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, focused on government relations at the meetings. He works with state wildlife-agency directors and other ATA partners on programs and policies affecting state, regional and national laws and regulations.
Gold, the ATA’s senior manager of R3 programs and state regulations, works with wildlife agencies, nongovernmental organizations and other groups on programs that “recruit, retain and reactivate” hunters.
By advising ATA partners on archery and bowhunting initiatives that affect the industry and ATA members, Gold and Forster hope to boost participation nationwide.
Gold demonstrates the benefits of the Explore Bowhunting and Bowfishing programs. Photo Credit: ATA
The annual AFWA conference drew over 800 attendees from trade associations, conservation groups, federal agencies, state fish and wildlife agencies, and nongovernment organizations from across the United States and Canada.
At an ATA-sponsored luncheon for agency directors and other partners on Sept. 10, Forster discussed the ATA’s strategic planning efforts and priorities. He alsoreviewed pressing issues like chronic wasting disease, the ATA’s Deer Protection Program, and Pittman-Robertson Modernization legislation.
Forster also reviewed research on the complexity of hunting regulations and their possible impacts on participation. In addition, Gold and Forster presented the Texas and Oklahoma wildlife agencies with the ATA’s R3 Partnership Award. The awards honored the agencies’ exemplary work in recruiting, retaining and reactivating bowhunters in their states.
During the conference, Forster attended the National Deer Alliance’s board meeting and several AFWA committee meetings to discuss national grants, federal trust funds, state and federal policy issues, and ways to increase hunting and shooting-sports participation. In addition, Forster spoke with U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff about ongoing R3 efforts and conservation initiatives. Several groups also discussed how the PR Modernization legislation creates strategies and opportunities for engaging prospective hunters.
Gold, meanwhile, attended outreach and education workshops and meetings to discuss archery and bowhunting participation trends. Gold also informed R3 coordinators and program administrators on ATA initiatives that help recruit, retain and reactivate hunters. These resources include mentorship programs, the ATA’s Archery Park Guide, and its Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing programs.
The R3 initiative seeks to grow the sports of archery and bowhunting in an engaging way. Photo Credit: Council to advance Hunting and Shooting Sports Youtube
A month later, Forster and Gold attended the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies meeting, which was Oct. 21 to 24 in Mobile, Alabama. The event drew over 600 attendees from federal agencies, 15 member states, and many ATA conservation partners.
Forster updated his September AFWA conference presentation, and customized the information for Southeastern agency directors and the Wildlife Resources Committee. Forster also met with state agency representatives to discuss CWD and potential regulatory actions, and explained the ATA’s Deer Protection Program for states considering ways to regulate scent products that include wildlife urines. Forster also met with the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports leadership team regarding its National R3 Plan.
For his part, Gold gave an R3 presentation to state and partner committee members about new ways to boost hunting and shooting-sports participation. He also gave a presentation encouraging his audience to partner with industry members in their communities to run archery programs. Kayla Becker, ATA’s marketing manager, then discussed how to use partnerships to market programs and communicate with peers and participants.
Forster and Gold also attended small-group meetings to review ways to boost participation in hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.
“We attend these meetings to engage with our NGO and state partners, and speak with state agency staff, from directors to field staff, Gold said. “The conversations were meaningful and productive. In return, we hear perspectives on issues facing our industry and the initiatives we’re working on. That feedback helps us make decisions that help our members.”
Click here to learn more about the ATA’s nationwide initiatives for boosting bowhunting and industry growth.